February 18, 2019 Serkan Ozturk 6
EXCLUSIVE: Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars missing. Bribes. Money Laundering. Mercenaries, Military, Militias. Gina Rinehart’s dead family bodyguard. Swiss bank accounts. Senior politicians and officials in both Australia and PNG involved, or turning a blind eye for years. While one thousand refugees remain trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare. That’s the cost of doing business on Manus Island. Thanks to this terminal Federal Government and Peter Dutton’s shady Paladin. Serkan Ozturk with this deep investigation.
It’s the fast-moving fiasco that could arguably become one of the greatest political and military scandals in Australian history. Regardless, it will go down as yet another deep, dark stain on this country’s failure to provide adequately for the vulnerable. In a special forensic investigation, True Crime News Weekly will help join the dots of what has already become known as the #PaladinAffair. The widening scandal could very well be the final nail in the coffin for Scott Morrison’s deeply unpopular government, as well as perhaps leading to the end of a few careers, starting with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
Our investigation will show how a privatised quasi-version of the ADF with links to controversial and maligned mercenary groups such as Blackwater and Sandline International is – along with senior levels of the Australian Government – highly involved in the bribery of foreign officials as well as the laundering of hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars meant to provide basic services for refugees.
WHAT’S THE DEAL
Over the space of the last two years, the Federal Government under the direction of Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs ministerial superagency has quietly awarded almost half-a-billion dollars worth of contracts without tender to one small company led by a man with a string of bad businesses and unpaid debts. The beneficiary has been the little-known Paladin Group. $423 million has been handed over to the private security contracting firm to provide security and other services at the Manus Island detention centre for asylum seekers. They even got a generous helping hand to get things going, with the thinly capitalised company given $10 million from the public purse as Paladin didn’t have any funds itself. For the first five months of the deal, Paladin were operating without a contract for five months. Instead, they just had a letter of intent.
Almost $110 million of taxpayers funds was given to Paladin on January 3 just after the New Year despite the Federal Government being aware of a serious legal case launched against two of its directors alleging deceptive practices. Meanwhile, one of Paladin’s directors has been banned from entering PNG. While another was arrested just a fortnight ago for his involvement in fraud and money laundering. A former senior employee alleges large “ex-gratia payments” are being made by the company, and that it also lacks the resources to actually fulfil the government’s contract. Before greater media scrutiny over the past few days forced the company into some hasty moves, Paladin’s registered principal place of business was an isolated beach shack on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, with no phone number or mailing address listed. The beach shack remains the company’s registered address.
SEE THE CONTRACT WITH PALADIN HERE
An investigation by The Australian Financial Review has found Paladin is likely receiving more than $20 million a month from Dutton’s ministry, despite experts estimating the true cost to provide the required services being closer to $3 million each month. That means a clean $17 million each month is basically unaccounted for. Over 18 months, that’s hundreds of millions of dollars. Where is all that money going to?
Paladin is contracted to provide security, as well as some maintenance, IT services and local transport at the East Lorengau Transit Centre, Hillside Haus and the West Lorengau camp. Local guards working at the detention centre are believed to be getting paid only two dollars an hour. Vehicles are said to be run down. And there’s little fancy technology to speak of. Asylum seeker activists, such as Sarah Ruby and Amanda Perram, have been publicly voicing their concerns about the dubious contracts given to Paladin since 2017.
With the PNG Supreme Court ruling the detention centre on Manus Island was unconstitutional in April 2016, it made the few large and ‘reputable’ companies involved in the disreputable business of imprisoning asylum seekers fearful of getting involved due to fears of massive law suits. It was largely for this reason that Broadspectrum announced at the time it would not not extend its contract to run the centre after it expired in mid-2017. Its new Spanish owners, Ferrovial, did not want to risk future law suits
Next : Madang Governor Is Commanding All MPs To Fund, As Alleged, The Inflated Parliament Costs